Quotes on Knowledge

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Just as we cannot think of spatial objects at all apart from space, or temporal objects apart from time, so we cannot think of any object apart from the possibility of its connexion with other things.
 
The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
 
We commonly speak as though a single 'thing' could 'have' some characteristic. A stone, we say, is 'hard,' 'small,' 'heavy,' 'yellow,' 'dense,' etc. That is how our language is made: 'The stone is hard.' And so on. And that way of talking is good enough for the marketplace: 'That is a new brand.' 'The potatoes are rotten.' 'The container is damaged.'... And so on. But this way of talking is not good enough in science or epistemology. To think straight, it is advisable to expect all qualities and attributes, adjectives, and so on to refer to at least -two- sets of interactions in time....Language continually asserts by the syntax of subject and predicate that 'things' somehow 'have' qualities and attributes. A more precise way of talking would insist that the 'things' are produced, are seen as separate from other 'things,' and are made 'real' by their internal relations and by their behaviour in relationship with other things and with the speaker. It is necessary to be quite clear about the universal truth that whatever 'things' may be in their pleromatic and thingish world, they can only enter the world of communication and meaning by their names, their qualities and their attributes (i. e., by reports of their internal and external relations and interactions).
 
There are no subjects in the world. A subject is a limitation of the world.
 
There is a strong tendency in explanatory prose to invoke quantities of tension, energy, and whatnot to explain the genesis of pattern. I believe that all such explanations are inappropriate or wrong.
 
Should one name one central concept, a first principle, of cybernetics, it would be circularity.
 
It's natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer. But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth. Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity's highest callings.
 
...A few executives here and there read them. The rest of us ignore them for the good and sufficient reason that we have other things to do....
 
The a priori method is distinguished for its comfortable conclusions. It is the nature of the process to adopt whatever belief we are inclined to, and there are certain flatteries to the vanity of man which we all believe by nature, until we are awakened from our pleasing dream by rough facts.
 
The thinkers of the Enlightenment sought a new understanding of the human condition. The era was a cornucopia of ideas, some of them contradictory, but four themes tie them together: reason, science, humanism, and progress.
 
Hegel seems to me to be always wanting to say that things which look different are really the same. Whereas my interest is in showing that things which look the same are really different. I was thinking of using as a motto for my book a quotation from King Lear: 'I’ll teach you differences'.
 
Knowledge is in the end based on acknowledgement.
 
I don't know where my expertise is; my expertise is no disciplines. I would recommend to drop disciplinarity wherever one can. Disciplines are an outgrowth of academia. In academia you appoint somebody and then in order to give him a name he must be a historian, a physicist, a chemist, a biologist, a biophysicist; he has to have a name. Here is a human being: Joe Smith -- he suddenly has a label around the neck: biophysicist. Now he has to live up to that label and push away everything that is not biophysics; otherwise people will doubt that he is a biophysicist. If he's talking to somebody about astronomy, they will say "I don't know, you are not talking about your area of competence, you're talking about astronomy, and there is the department of astronomy, those are the people over there," and things of that sort. Disciplines are an aftereffect of the institutional situation.
 
The shape of the response must meet the shape of the trouble.
 
Gossip is certainly one of the things that language is useful for, because it's always handy to know who needs a favor, who can offer a favor, who's available, who's under the protection of a jealous spouse. And being the first to get a piece of gossip is like engaging in insider trading: You can capitalize on an opportunity before anyone else can.
 
One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.
 
Non esiste nulla all'infuori del Tutto.
 
The only profitable conversations are with enthusiasts who have ceased being so, with the ex-naïve. Calmed down at last, they have taken, willy-nilly, the decisive step toward knowledge, that impersonal version of disappointment.
 
There are two ways of spreading the light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
 
If you can approach the world's complexities, both its glories and its horrors, with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you have seen, you have only scratched the surface, you will find worlds within worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane preoccupations will shrink to proper size, not all that important in the greater scheme of things.
 
We never arrive at fundamental propositions in the course of our investigation; we get to the boundary of language which stops us from asking further questions. We don't get to the bottom of things, but reach a point where we can go no further, where we cannot ask further questions.
 
You are not made to live as beasts but to follow virtue and knowledge
 
The great delusion of modernity, is that the laws of nature explain the universe for us. The laws of nature describe the universe, they describe the regularities. But they explain nothing.
 
There may be things that are completely unknowable to us, so we must be careful not to treat the limits of our knowledge as sure guides to the limit of what there is.
 
What we need now is the description of the “describer” or, in other words, we need a theory of the observer.
 
The solution of the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time.
 
An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
 
If man were wise, he would gauge the true worth of anything by its usefulness and appropriateness to his life.
 
If a sign is not necessary then it is meaningless. That is the meaning of Occam’s razor.
 
I do look for openings where I can overturn popular misconceptions, but unlike Christopher Hitchens, I am neither a contrarian nor a lone heretic. I like to have a significant number of academics watching my back.
 
The form is the possibility of the structure.
 
Activity is the only road to knowledge.
 
I do not deny that objective experience is imbued with acquired meaning in many respects... Probably no experience escapes from the influence of meaning.
 
Physics is becoming the study of organization. In this way … it will converge with biology and psychology.
 
Not how the world is, but that it is, is the mystery.
 
Another alternative would have been to give you what’s called a popular-scientific lecture, that is a lecture intended to make you believe that you understand a thing which actually you don’t understand, and to gratify what I believe to be on of the lowest desires of modern people, namely the superficial curiosity about the latest discoveries of science.
 
What we can't say we can't say, and we can't whistle it either.
 
Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be said can be said clearly.
 
A falling tree makes more noise than a growing forest.
 
What you can imagine depends on what you know.
 
A hypothesis is something which looks as if it might be true and were true, and which is capable of verification or refutation by comparison with facts.
 
Only describe, don't explain.
 
No general description of the mode of advance of human knowledge can be just which leaves out of account the social aspect of knowledge. That is of its very essence. What a thing society is! The workingman, with his trade union, knows that. Men and women moving in polite society understand it, still better. But Bohemians, like me, whose work is done in solitude, are apt to forget that not only is a man as a whole little better than a brute in solitude, but also that everything that bears any important meaning to him must receive its interpretation from social considerations.
 
Academics lack perspective. In a debate on whether the world is round, they would argue, 'No,' because it's an oblate spheroid. They suffer from 'the curse of knowledge': the inability to imagine what it's like not to know something that they know.
 
Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance. 
 
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
 
We cannot address complexity without using our own complexity.
 
As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.
 
Interesting phenomena occur when two or more rhythmic patterns are combined, and these phenomena illustrate very aptly the enrichment of information that occurs when one description is combined with another.
 
He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
 
Roughly speaking: to say of two things that they are identical is nonsense, and to say of one thing that it is identical with itself is to say nothing.
 
We know accurately only when we know little, with knowledge doubt increases.
 
If man were immortal he could be perfectly sure of seeing the day when everything in which he had trusted should betray his trust.
 
Multiple descriptions are better than one.
 
The real, then, is that which, sooner or later, information and reasoning would finally result in, and which is therefore independent of the vagaries of me and you. Thus, the very origin of the conception of reality shows that this conception essentially involves the notion of a COMMUNITY, without definite limits, and capable of a definite increase of knowledge.
 
The way in which the world is imagined determines at any particular moment what men will do.
 
Without context words and actions have no meaning at all.
 
For the real environment is altogether too big, too complex, and too fleeting for direct acquaintance. We are not equipped to deal with so much subtlety, so much variety, so many permutations and combinations. And although we have to act in that environment, we have to reconstruct it on a simpler model before we can manage it.
 
If you want to go down deep you do not need to travel far; indeed, you don’t have to leave your most immediate and familiar surroundings.
 
Not a single one of the cells that compose you knows who you are, or cares.
 
You don't have to travel around the world to understand that the sky is blue everywhere.
 
The map is not the territory (coined by Alfred Korzybski), and the name is not the thing named.
 
It is important to understand what I mean by semiosis. All dynamic action, or action of brute force, physical or psychical, either takes place between two subjects, whether they react equally upon each other, or one is agent and the other patient, entirely or partially, or at any rate is a resultant of such actions between pairs. But by "semiosis" I mean, on the contrary, an action, or influence, which is, or involves, a cooperation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object, and its interpretant, this tri-relative influence not being in any way resolvable into actions between pairs.
 
Something that cannot be explained cannot be seen.
 
Even the most vaunted experts are susceptible to wishful thinking and can be blinded to a truth by a conviction that is supported more by emotional attachment than reason.
 
What is the proof that I know something? Most certainly not my saying I know it.
 
Learning is acquired by reading books; but the much more necessary learning, the knowledge of the world, is only to be acquired by reading man, and studying all the various editions of them.
 
Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.
 
Learning is acquired by reading books; but the much more necessary learning, the knowledge of the world, is only to be acquired by reading men, and studying all the various editions of them.
 
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
 
Etc.: A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.
 
The recognition of the difference between appearance and reality is a human discovery.
 
First-order cybernetics is the science of observed systems; Second-order cybernetics is the science of observing systems.
 
Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification. 
 
Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
 
We can analyze the melody, but not in independent parts. That would be destrucion of the melody.
 
The only answer to the endless chains of why, why, why is that the alternatives died.
 
It has often been argued that absolute scepticism is self-contradictory; but this is a mistake: and even if it were not so, it would be no argument against the absolute sceptic, inasmuch as he does not admit that no contradictory propositions are true. Indeed, it would be impossible to move such a man, for his scepticism consists in considering every argument and never deciding upon its validity; he would, therefore, act in this way in reference to the arguments brought against him.
 
Those who fear the facts will forever try to discredit the fact-finders.
 
A picture of a complete apple tree, however accurate, is in a certain sense much less like the tree itself than is a little daisy.
 
We are most of us governed by epistemologies that we know to be wrong.
 
The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything.
 
What is the pattern that connects the crab to the lobster and the primrose to the orchid, and all of them to me, and me to you?
 
Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.
 
Any curriculum will be pedagogically ineffective if it consists of a lecturer yammering in front of a blackboard, or a textbook that students highlight with a yellow marker. People understand concepts only when they are forced to think them through, to discuss them with others, and to use them to solve problems.
 
No reason to deconstruct what does not exist; one must only remember not to practise it.
 
To suppose universal laws of nature capable of being apprehended by the mind and yet having no reason for their special forms, but standing inexplicable and irrational, is hardly a justifiable position. Uniformities are precisely the sort of facts that need to be accounted for. Law is par excellence the thing that wants a reason. Now the only possible way of accounting for the laws of nature, and for uniformity in general, is to suppose them results of evolution.
 
We can never be quite clear whether we are referring to the world as it is or to the world as we see it.
 
It takes two to know one.
 
It is... easy to be certain. One has only to be sufficiently vague.
 
Light is so empowering that it serves as the metaphor of choice for a superior intellectual and spiritual state: enlightenment.
 
It is as if the stuff of which we are made were totally transparent and therefore imperceptible and as if the only appearances of which we can be aware are cracks and planes of fracture in that transparent matrix. Dreams and percepts and stories are perhaps cracks and irregularities in the uniform and timeless matrix. Was this what Plotinus meant by an 'invisible and unchanging beauty which pervades all things"?
 
If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.
 
Remember your math: an anecdote is not a trend.
 
Perhaps what is inexpressible (what I find mysterious and am not able to express) is the background against which whatever I could express has its meaning.
 
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